You’ve heard the popular saying, “Diamonds are forever”, right? Well, this is certainly true of Cullinan, a small, yet well-preserved 19th-century diamond-mining town around 50km east of Pretoria.
Founded in 1902, this quirky and quaint little hamlet is not only famous for producing the some of the world’s largest diamonds, but also for retaining its historical late-Victorian identity (much of the town’s original architecture still remains), as well as its old-world hospitality.
Situated in the Dinokeng region, in the north-east corner of Gauteng province, Cullinan’s close proximity to Pretoria and Johannesburg makes it easily accessible for anyone wanting to shrug off the hectic pace of the big city, whether for a day visit or to languish over an extended period.
Whatever your choice, there’s no shortage of entertainment in Cullinan, where most of the ancient structures are functioning retail outlets, restaurants, museums and gift shops.
And just because the residents of old got their only kicks from digging for diamonds, doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. Apart from discovering the immense historical value of the town, its museums and architecture, there are more physically demanding activities to be enjoyed, such as motorised surface mine tours, underground walking mine tours; ziplining across rocky gorges; horse-riding trails; abseiling; or even bongo drumming.
More leisurely and sedate options include strolling along picturesque Oak Avenue and imagining the world of Cullinan as is was at the start of the 1900s.
Unleash your inner gourmand and sample all manner of culinary treats; browse bric-a-brac shops and antique stores; take in a bit of local theatre at Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas (Afrikaans for “Jan Harmsgat’s back garden”); or enjoy a cultural tour of nearby Refilwe township.
It’s illegal to take leave Cullinan with unregistered diamonds, but you can take away as many precious memories as you like.